*VIDEO* Care & Compassion
PUBLISHED: 09:00 18 February 2014
A vital support network for adults with life-threatening illness has revealed major development plans, as BELINDA DILLON reports
During 2012, Hospiscare cared for more than 1,790 adults with a life-threatening illness across Exeter, Mid and East Devon. Of those, 324 people received care as in-patients at the Exeter hospice, which provides 24-hour nursing care and medical treatment; many more attended one of Hospiscare’s three day hospices in Exeter, Tiverton and Seaton.
Throughout the year, the team of expert community nurses can make in excess of 14,520 visits to patients in their own homes. On a daily basis, Hospiscare helps approximately 700 people and their families deal with the effects of receiving a life threatening or end of life diagnosis. And it does it all for free.
Hospiscare’s day hospices are an integral part of the charity’s work in the community. Patients have expert nursing care and support for the day, plus enjoy a wide range of therapies and activities, and many find they benefit from the mutual support of sharing experiences with others in a similar situation. It also gives families and carers a welcome respite break.
Currently, patients in East Devon can travel long distances to access these services, but this month, thanks to a £510,000 grant from NHS England plus generous pledges from sister charities and trusts, Hospiscare has begun building a new purpose-built day hospice in the centre of Honiton, which is due to open in the summer.
There are a number of misconceptions about what Hospiscare is and how it operates. Here are some common myths busted:
Myth: Hospiscare is a national charity
Truth: Started in Exeter in 1982 by RD&E consultant Dr John Searle, Hospiscare is a local charity that supports patients with a terminal diagnosis in the Exeter and East Devon region. It receives no NHS funding or financial assistance from any other cancer charities, and its work is funded totally through public donations.
Myth: Hospiscare only supports people with cancer
Truth: The charity cares for patients who are referred with a wide range of illnesses including dementia, motor neurone disease and multiplesclerosis.
Myth: Hospiscare only provides in-patient care in hospices
Truth: The majority of the charity’s work is carried out in the community by a team of 26 nurses who care for patients in their own homes, completely free of charge.
Set in beautifully landscaped grounds, the day hospice will have a spa-like treatment room, a state-of-the-art assisted bathroom, a large and comfortable patient lounge, a tranquil garden designed by a specialist in dementia care, plus educational facilities for training and education. The local Hospiscare community nursing team will be based here, allowing easier access to patients and their carers for support, information and advice. “Hospiscare fulfils a vital role in the community, and this new day hospice will improve the existing service we provide in East Devon,” says Team Leader Angela Phillips, who will be based at the new day hospice. “It will enhance our tried and tested day care model by providing a more tailored, bespoke service – patients can call up and book a bath, a complementary treatment, or a chat with the community nurse – and it will allow people to be supported by professionals that they know and trust.”
Gemma Wensley understands the benefits of having a day hospice close to home. In 2010, she was diagnosed with a brain-stem tumour and immediately began receiving specialist treatment at the RD&E in Exeter, where she lives, and began visiting the hospice there.
“Spending time at the day hospice makes you feel normal again,” explains Gemma. “Everything is so clinical at the hospital, but here you can be yourself. When you’re feeling unwell, travelling short distances, let alone miles, can be a real struggle – it made such a difference that the day hospice was close to home.
“When I was diagnosed I had just started my nursing career, and I went from being a busy person to having nothing to do. Being able to just pop up the road, to talk and spend time with people who understood what I was going through, really helped.”
Moments of care
Hospiscare still needs to raise £250,000 to complete the new day hospice and cover running costs for two years. Patients and their families often say that it is the smallest things that make the biggest difference, and here’s how your donations can help:
£5 Provides a freshly prepared meal
£15 Will help to plant the new garden
£25 Funds a relaxing massage
£40 Provides a soothing assisted bath
£100 Enables a patient to visit the day hospice
Visit eastdevondayhospiceappeal.co.uk to register your donation.
With the day hospice providing such an important service at a difficult time in people’s lives, the design of the building is crucial. Dominic Leaver, Senior Project Manager at construction consultancy Faithful+Gould, brings his own specialist knowledge of healthcare architecture to the project – he was part of the team responsible for the Rowcroft Hospice in Torquay – and chose design firm Atkins for the job because it won an award for Best Interior Dementia Design at the Dementia Care Awards in 2012.
“In terms of internal layout, we worked closely with Hospiscare to ensure that there was a flow between spaces, as well as a blurring of the boundaries between inside and outside – the lounge area, for instance, will open directly onto the private garden,” says Dominic.
“Outside, accessibility is key, but this part of central Honiton is also a Conservation Area so we’ve tried to link the design to what the site offers us and are re-using natural stone from existing walls. The main entrance will feature traditional materials used in a contemporary way and will be fully glazed, with vertical timber panels that create an interesting solar shading and overhang. The building will be approachable and welcoming, which is a really important consideration.”
Although Hospiscare can’t make anyone better, it can make them feel better, and the new day hospice will bring care closer to home for thousands of local people.